The Philippines has a year long calendar of fiestas. Whether as an act of veneration to a patron saint, a commemoration of a historic event or a reenactment of folklore, the Filipino celebrates that in a fiesta.
The recently concluded Aliwan Festival is a proof of that fondness of Filipinos for fiestas.
But where did the fiesta come from? In a recent article on the Sunday Inquirer Magazine, it explained that “the fiesta began as a patchwork of pagan rituals and Spain’s Christian tradition celebrated to honor saints and religious figures. But they have since assumed a more secular character, much of the merriment fueled by inordinate drinking, costumed dancing, frenzied singing, indiscriminate eating, as well as assorted street games and carnival rides. Not to mention the attempt to trump other celebrations and haul in the cash in the process.”
In the recent years, Filipino fiestas are getting more and more extravagant with more street dancing, fanfare and gimmicks to probably outdo a previous year’s fiesta or to show off a town’s creativity and economic status.
I have no problems with Filipinos showcasing their creativity in fiestas. However, fiesta organizers as well as participants must not give in to commercialism to the point of altering the traditions behind the fiestival and over splurging for the purpose of showing off.